Where you live matters as you grow older. While the majority of older adults say they’d like to remain in their own homes, few houses were designed with senior safety in mind. A 2017 Harvard University study found that only 1 percent of American homes were equipped with basic universal design features that make a home accessible and senior-friendly.
Here are some of the important accessibility features older adults often require:
- Step-free entry
- Main floor living
- Etra wide halls and doorways
- Lever-style handles on faucets and doors
While some newer homes are built with no-step showers, making them easier to access for people who aren’t steady on their feet, few older homes have them.
If you and your senior family member have decided to explore local assisted living communities for a potential move, it’s important to make an informed decision.
Searching for Assisted Living
When you begin your search, it can be difficult to know what to look for and which questions to ask. In general, your search should begin and end with what matters most to your senior loved one and what their personal health requires.
- Changing needs: As we grow older, our needs change. Sometimes it is temporary, such as after an injury or illness, and other times it’s the natural progression of aging. When you consider a senior community, this is an important issue to address. What happens when a senior’s health changes? Are higher levels of care available? Moving is tough at any age, but especially for an older adult who might not be feeling well.
- Caregiver experience: The commitment and experience of a community’s caregivers are directly linked to the quality of care provided. An item at the top of your list should be learning more about the caregivers. Find out how they are recruited, screened, and trained. Ask what the staff-to-resident ratios are, and how long (on average) team members have been with the company.
- Community’s personality: If your senior loved one prefers a more casual environment, put that on your list. By contrast, if they enjoy dressing up for dinner and view it as a social affair, that’s an important preference to keep in mind. You want them to feel at home and fit in well at whatever community they choose.
- Dining services: Having a variety of menu options that are both delicious and nutritious is another essential item. Ask for a copy of recent menus and inquire about the number of choices residents have and how often the menu changes. Also find out if residents can select their own mealtimes and tablemates. Flexibility and variety are important.
- Life enrichment: Opportunities to socialize and participate in life enrichment programs help nurture the body, mind, and spirit. Find out how and when activities are scheduled. Be sure to ask about weekends and evenings. If your senior loved one has a favorite pastime or two, are those part of the regular schedule or can they be added? Does the life enrichment calendar include both on campus events and outings to local destinations?
While there are a range of other features and amenities that can make an assisted living community more appealing, such as an on-site beauty salon or transportation services, it’s important to focus first on the factors that impact a senior’s quality of life and health.
Learn More About Senior Living
If you aren’t quite sure what type of support a loved one needs, we have a tool you might find useful. Our care questionnaire walks you through a series of questions designed to help you narrow down your choices. Take our Care Questionnaire to get started!